Luis Mario Gell and the Art of Photography
By: Lucía Arboláez / Photos Courtesy of Luis Mario Gell
Thanks to the simple fact that somebody gave Luis Mario Gell a camera as a birthday present when he was a teenager, today we can enjoy a vast body of work by this young artist.
With the camera he received from his father, Gell took many photos; some were good and others weren't, but that is where it all started. For him, photography is a vehicle; observers may not understand his photos, but they find them stirring.
His inspiration? Visiting museums, leafing through magazines, but above all, being in contact with people in the street, both in Cuba and abroad, which is something that that has helped him enormously, he says.
“I have always wanted to do experimental photography, which is one way of describing it,” he adds. “I'm very attracted to cinema because it is imaginative; you have to carry out a series of actions before you can take the photos.”
Gell has many projects. One was to set up a studio in Havana, Estudio 50, and collect a small warehouse full of objects from the 1950s for anyone who would like to have their photo taken with them. He is also creating a catalogue featuring the work of several Cuban jewellers, and another of architecture in Cuba throughout the years.
Born in Havana in 1978, Gell is a member of the Fondo Cubano de la Imagen Fotográfica (a photographers' association) and the Officine Fotografiche de Roma school of photography, where he worked as a tutor. He is also vice president of the AISSAI ONLUS association, an NGO for international social and artistic development (www.aissaionlus.org).
With AISSAI ONLUS, Gell has organized a number of photography exhibitions, such as Cuba in Images (collective, Rome, 2010); Landscapes (solo, Julio Larramendi, Rome, 2010); and Waters (solo, Alan Pérez, Havana, 2010), all in collaboration with the Havana City Historian's Office.
He has participated in many different activities in Europe, such as an initiative in 2006, when he began working as an archive photographer for the Bottega Mortet Roma, an artisans' laboratory specializing in sacred art, where he put together a database of a large part of the work of this artisan family, which for more than 200 years has worked in that city for renowned religious and state institutions, such as the Vatican, the Quirinale, the Dante Aligheri Society and the Comune di Roma.
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